If I say the Internet has allowed me to connect people all over the world, then I’d say mobile devices have allowed me to keep the connections any place any time (I know this is ideal). I really like this week’s learning as mobile phone has become an essential tool in my life. I learnt how mobile technologies have helped impaired people’s daily life (like telling the colours and road navigation), and what’s the constraints of the technology. I can’t imagine how inconvenient my life will be without the Internet and mobile phone.
Mobile devices request people to use fingers and eyes a lot when interact with the screen, therefore people who have certain disabilities face many interactive difficulties when using mobile devices. Thus input and output methods matter very much.
I have learnt to consider the accessibility features on mobile devices from four aspects: vision, hearing, physical- and motor-skills, and cognitive. I have learnt Switch Access Scanning technology and speech input built-in technology like OK Google can help people who have mobility and dexterity difficulties to operate touch screen to search information. The screen reader technologies (e.g., TalkBack, Text-to-Speech (TTS) and Magnification gesture built-in options) can help people who are visual impaired to read information on mobile devices easier. Braille input/out technology like Built-in Braille Keyboard on iPhone, Google BrailleBack and Bluetooth braille display can help blind people who are able to read Braille.
I have learnt some very useful apps:
- VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader (iPhone app).
- I was amazed by these people who have a disability themselves developed very useful mobile apps, for instance ColorVisor is designed for colour detection; WalkersGuide is designed for blind pedestrians to access routes easily.
- iBeacon-compatible-apps are something I’d like to explore more. I can see it will be very useful for elderly people who are losing memories.
There some useful resources for me to learn the assistive technology:
- Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) provides research and support resources for people with sight loss. It’s good to start by reading the Beginner’s guide to assistive technology.
The other day I came across the Alibaba Warehouse video which shows how technologies (e.g., TTS, recognition labels, robots) have changed the work process. I think when more and more people aware the accessibility issues, mobile technologies will be developed better and better to meet people’s needs.